06 June 2008

Satisfying the bloodlust of the masses in peacetime

No! He's missed! How...I can't believe it...

Top 5 Things That Are Cruel
5.
Torture
4. An illness that claims the life of a child
3.When you go to the fridge only to find that someone has taken the last Ribena, even though you were really, really looking forward to it
2. Life itself
1. The penalty shoot-out

Isn't it horrific? Look at him: he's just crestfallen. Devastated! Is...is he crying? I think he might be crying. Is that a tear or a bead of sweat?, I can't tell. Can't wait until I get HD. Watch him there, trudging back to the centre circle. Doesn't it break your heart? It's just inhuman to expect someone to bear such pressure...

...Listen, you can sneer all you want. You can point out that he is a grown man voluntarily participating in a game of emotional high stakes, and that if he's willing to accept the glorious elation that accompanies victory, he must live with the despair that defeat can bring, especially given that he would presumably be happy to see the latter inflicted on his opponents if it meant victory for his team. And you can blah-blah-blah about keeping things in perspective all night if you like; it's simply unfair to put the poor lad through the wringer like that. Just look at him there; his team-mates are patting him on the head, he doesn't know where to look; he must feel awful...

...What? He should have practised? Practise? Do you know nothing? You can't practise penalties! Everyone knows a shoot-out is just a lottery. Did you not just hear the boys in the studio? "Of course, penalties are just a lottery, aren't they, Gary?" They're experts, pal. Not good enough for you? What about the fella who said a shoot-out is just like a game of Russian roulette? He was an actual footballer, bud. You know it: you may as well flip a coin. So before you come out with your spiel about how a penalty is, at heart, a technical exercise that can be rehearsed and honed, don't bother. If I hear one more word about how a reliance on a tried and trusted method can help provide a beacon of stability through an episode of psychological intensity, I swear, I don't know what I'll do.

You know what you remind me of? That Stevie Wonder song...oh, what's this it's called? Can't remember...anyway, the one that goes "when you believe in things you don't understand, you suffer"; well, I'm trying to believe what you're telling me and I'm suffering, I can tell you that much. Repeat after me: you can't practise penalties!

...Aah! Saved! Nooooo! That's it; the dream is over. Dammit, that was a poor penalty. He never looked sure, did he? It was just the right height for the keeper, too easy for him. Christ, we keep losing these damn things. It's pissing me off, this. It's so unfair. There has to be a better way than this.

How about what they did in the early days of the FA Cup? If the game was a draw, both teams would go through to the next round. The players wouldn't be subjected to the ordeal of...

...No, you're right: it is a bit crappy. Kind of school sports day, I suppose.

Wait! I have it! What if they inverted how they used to do it in the FA Cup? Follow the example of the Eisteddfod. You know the way they have this big poetry competition there: the bards all have to write a poem in this ancient metre, and the winner gets to sit in this big chair or throne or something and gets their name etched in history. Now here's the thing: if the judges deem that no composition is worthy of victory, then they don't give anyone the award. There's just no winner for that year. Now, apply it to football: in a knockout game, if the teams are level after extra-time, both teams are eliminated. If it happens in the final, then we declare a no-winner. Think about it: both teams going for it to avoid the shame of rendering the whole tournament pointless; no caution, and no cruel, cruel penalties. It's brilliant, no? I'll tell you this much: it's too bloody sensible for Blatter to implement, that's for sure.

Hey, you know that blog you keep talking about setting up? This should be it! You know, just us, hanging out, talking about football. You could make this the first post!...Hey, okay, calm down. It was just an idea. Last time I offer you any advice.

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